Lowell Cohn: Sports got it right and banished bad guy Donald Sterling (w/video)

  • Fans hold up signs in support of the Los Angeles Clippers before Game 5 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, in Los Angeles. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the league. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Silver said no owner can do that in the NBA, a league where people from France and China and Argentina, you name the country, play alongside men from Chicago's inner city. A rainbow league.

It was like a fairytale. The evil guy got banished and everyone got back to life, and the kingdom was whole.

On Tuesday afternoon, Warriors coach Mark Jackson and Clippers coach Doc Rivers — antagonists on the court — spoke privately, spoke about how their teams might have boycotted the game if Silver did not come through. Later, Jackson said he was honored to walk side-by-side with Rivers in this fight. Jackson said the fight is bigger than basketball.

NBA On Donald Sterling Decision


Sports got it right. Sports always gets it right, even if sports sometimes moves slowly. Sports got it right with Jackie Robinson and sports got it right when Bill Russell became the first African-American coach in the NBA — he took over the Celtics in 1966. Sports was ahead of the curve, is the most tolerant organism. It should make you proud about being a fan. And it should make you angry when people say mere games are trivial. Ask Sterling.

The players did not speak to the media before the game. It would have blown their minds to analyze Silver's words to the media when they were amping up for competition. The coaches spoke.

Rivers went first, walked into a media interview room with every seat filled and people lining the walls. The overflow watched on TVs in the press eating room. This would be a pivotal game in the Warriors-Clippers series. It was a pivotal moment in American history.

Rivers sighed as he slid into his chair. It was a loud sigh. It was a life sigh. His team was practicing when Silver announced his decision. He shared the decision later with the team. His players listened. "Honestly there was nothing in the room," Rivers explained later. "There was complete silence. Just to let them know this was some closure. There's still work to do."

Rivers began his news conference without waiting for questions. He boldly leaped into the controversy. Sterling is the villain of this sad drama, and Rivers is the hero. The MVP.

"Hello, everybody," he said, his voice weary. "I come with no notes, with no prep statement. This last three or four days have been very difficult for everybody involved. No matter what the race is, it's been difficult. I thought Adam Silver today was fantastic. He made a decision that really was the right one, that had to be made.

"I don't think this is something we rejoice in. I think (the players) were just happy there was a resolution, at least the start of it. I'm really proud of them. I've been proud of the players in the NBA, overall. I've been proud of the owners. We're all in a better place because of this."

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